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Friday 22 April 2016

ℚ♫ Improbables - Jonathan Charles Bruce

Today we have the pleasure of meeting up with author to talk about Improbables (, BookTrope Editions, 351 pages), a Paranormal Romance.

Author Q&A | Synopsis | Teaser | About the Author | Tour Stops

A very warm welcome to Jonathan Charles Bruce; thank you for joining us on BooksChatter and apologies for the delays today!

And thank you for sharing your music playlist for Improbables.  I could not find two pieces on YouTube; "Welcome to Edgewood" by Nate Fenwick Smith, which is part of the OST for Our Darker Purpose, and "Can’t Let You Go (Apathy Mix)" by Finding Jupiter - just click on the link to listen to them!  Enjoy!

What was the inspiration for Improbables?
"I’m a big fan of Jenny Trout, particularly her chapter-by-chapter analysis of various books.  As I was playing catch up with her blog, she started doing critiques of Buffy the Vampire Slayer wherein she talked about a variety of problematic tropes in different genres.

Since I tend to write in a way that consciously riffs on tropes, I thought it would be fun and challenging to do that to paranormal romance.  First, because I earnestly enjoy the genre.  Second, though, because I don’t normally write in it, I felt it would be good to develop as an author."
Jenny Trout is great!   Witty, funny and insightful. If you have not read her blog yet - do so.  You can also read some of her work on Wattpad, and, of course do check out her books!

How much of yourself is reflected in this book, and how?

"People who have heard me speak often tell me that they can hear me as they read.  It also changes based on my relationship with the person reading—colleagues hear it conversationally, whereas former students hear me lecturing.  It’s pretty cool, all things considered.

But if we were to move from pure mechanics, I’d say there’s a lot of me in there.  My passion for social issues, my background in history, and my love of pop culture are all bits and pieces of me that you can see crop up in the work."
The first thing that draws me to a book is its cover. Can you tell us about your cover for Improbables - why you chose that concept and who the artist is.
"Ah!  The artist is Ashley Ruggirello, whose other (equally fantastic) work you can find at

She is absolutely fantastic and was a pleasure to work with.  You see, I’m horrible when it comes to the visual arts—I’m always screwing something up and I can’t draw, paint, or craft to save my life.  When she approached me to help, my original thought was to have a cover with the characters on it.  I also word vomited some other things, like having their faces on banners, or having the main antagonist on there… lord, it’s embarrassing.

Somehow, she took my complete gibberish and turned it into what you see, and it’s amazing.  If you disagree, well, you’re wrong and I hate you."
Ah - no need to hate me. I agree with you ;-)

Why should we read Improbables and what sets it apart from the rest? What makes your book unique?

"This is an unfair question for Midwesterners, because, for the most part, we’re taught to be humble and not bother people.  It makes this whole selling thing very difficult.

But, let it not be said that I can’t try.  You should read Improbables because it’s fun.  It follows a woman trying to make her way in the world and the way she has to deal with stumbling upon an entire group of paranormal people living amongst us.  They’re not your typical dark brooding loners, either—you have a drunken vampire with a lust for life and a grumpy werewolf whose primary source of income is making knickknacks.

It critiques the genre in a playful way, skirting expected conventions while developing a relationship you can believe in.  The characters are smart and, while the major antagonist takes a while to appear, the emphasis is on a budding romance that takes our heroine by surprise. There are action sequences and a few interesting twists and turns that take the paranormal and make it touchable.  It will make you laugh and it will make you cry, all while respecting you as a reader."
Good pitch!  ;-)

Can you tell us something quirky about Improbables, its story and characters?

"Whenever you see a character with the last name “Bennetts”, they are named after a friend of mine.  Additionally, the character of Collins is named after another friend, and all my novels are secretly connected.  In the case of Improbables, there is a very specific character crossover from my book about super-powered people punching each other in the face.

Also, I have a tendency to use British variants of words until my editor yells at me."
Ah! Proper English! (I'll just sit here waiting to get lynched...)

Who would you recommend Improbables to and what should readers be aware of (any warnings or disclaimers)?

"I would recommend this book to people who like Joss Whedon-style dialogue and self-aware fiction.

I would also highly recommend Improbables to anyone who wonders why anyone would have to research vampires or werewolves in worlds where Dracula is a thing."
If you could / wished to turn Improbables into a movie, who would be your dream team?
"Oh, my god.  I’m bad at this.  It makes me excited and I doubt it would ever happen, so then I’m left feeling all sad.

But, hey!  Let’s do this!  I would love to work with any screenwriter, namely so I can continue to develop my own skill.  Justin Simien would be a fantastic director/writer to bring Improbables to the screen, in my opinion.

Justin Simien, director of Dear White People

As for actors, that’s tough.  For Abigail, I think Nicole Roderick or Lupita Nyong'o would be good choices.  Marley, the vampire, could be portrayed by Chloe Grace Moretz or Ashley Benson. Collins, our grumpy werewolf, could be played by any scruffy actor, really. I mean, they’re functionally interchangeable, right?

Nicole Roderick Lupita Nyong'o Chloe Moretz Ashley Benson
I think there are only three side characters I have ‘cast’.  First, there’s a guy with a podcast I’d love to provide my nasally voice to (because I’m awesome).  Second, Christine Baranski would be a phenomenal Lacy Renault.  Third, Dave Allen as the owner of the local newspaper, Gary Holbrook.

Jonathan Charles Bruce Christine Baranski Dave Allen
And now I’m going to be sad.  Don’t mind me."
Aww... don't be sad... you have a great book out ;-)

What do you like to write and read about?  Do you stick to a particular genre or do you like to explore different ones?

"I like to write in general, although my favourite thing to do is make people laugh.  I learned a lot about comedy from Monty Python’s absurdity, Red Dwarf’s blue collar sci-fi, and Blackadder’s smart-guy-surrounded-by-dullards.  I like writing about the mundane and how much fun or just plain bizarre these things can be.  I enjoy the fact that humdrum jobs are made bearable by good people, or how tiny triumphs against the office tyrant take on almost mythical proportions in the workaday psyche.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail Red Dwarf Black Adder II
So that informs a lot of my fiction regardless of genre. Improbables is a bit of a step out of my comfort zone in some ways.  While I am well aware of the tropes and standard story arcs of the genre, I’ve never really written in it before.  I do have a blog post/short story that sets out what would eventually become Improbables, but it is much more mean spirited than it should have been.  Improbables was an attempt to do something new—it is the only way that I can grow as a writer.  What this genre allows me to do is explore the key moments of the evolution of a relationship and actually spend time with it.  Rather than gloss it over for the sake of pacing or because it’s “less important” than the other story beats, those wonderful little vignettes that tell the tale of love are front and center.  I think that most genres and authors need to respect that human element more."
... do keep talking... you have pretty much hit all of my favourites there... all that is missing is some League of Gentlemen and some Green Wing (the last series was over and beyond surreal)...

What is your writing process?

"Slapping my keyboard until words come out goodly.

Seriously, though, I plot out the vast majority of information in my head.  I like to make sure my major story beats are in place before I begin in earnest. I tend to really emphasize my set pieces and work on connecting them. It is kind of a backward way of approaching writing, but I am a very visual person, so I tend to imagine what I’d like to see in a theatre and then figure out how to get the big actiony/character developy stuff to squish together appropriately."
What is in store next?
"Well, I’m probably going to be working on a sequel to Washed Hands, so that’s my plans for the coming months.  I guess that means you should buy that if you’re feeling intensely generous.

However, if people continue to pester me for it (that is to say, if they continue to ask me politely and my face doesn’t fall off from blushing), I’d love to do a sequel to Improbables—I’m thinking something vaguely Shadow Over Innsmouth inspired.  I have at least two major moments fleshed out as well as the inciting incident, but we’ll see.  I mean, I think that Improbables is the best thing I’ve ever written, and, according to legend, sequels are a great way to ruin something wonderful.  So…

Um… where was I going with this?"
And as a final quirky thing, to get to know you a little bit better... do you have a pet or something that is special to you that you could share with us?
"I have a headcrab."
Nice. I saw on your Facebook page that it even has a name... Hermie?
I hope you had a great tour and look forward to reading the Improbables!

Available NOW!

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Unknown said...

Thank you so much for posting the interview! I had so much fun with it! :D

BooksChatter said...

Hi Jonathan, thank you for stopping by!
Apologies for taking so long to add the finishing touches (life is great that way ;-) )

We really enjoyed having you here - and I am most definitely sold on Improbables (and Washed Hands)... now I just need to get reading...

Hope to see you again soon!